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AARP Asks New York Senate District 4 Candidates Monica Martinez, Wendy Rodriguez Questions Vital to Voters 50+

New Yorkers Vote In Mayoral Primary Election

New York voters will decide several closely watched races in November, including the state senate contest in District 4, featuring former state Sen. Monica Martinez (D) and businesswoman Wendy Rodriguez (R).

AARP New York spoke with the candidates to hear where they stand on key issues for 50-plus voters. Here's what they had to say:

How will you work to bring New Yorkers some relief from the high cost of prescription drugs?

Prescription Drugs

Martinez: No one should choose between food and medicine, and I am proud to have been able to deliver to New York state residents with capping insulin at a hundred dollars when I was in the New York State Senate. This covers everyone regardless of Medicare or Medicaid. I know that the federal government just recently did $35 as capping, but we in New York state need to do better, bring it down, but make sure it continues covering all. We also need to make sure that our pharmaceutical companies are not taking advantage of a vulnerable population, and I will make sure that they are kept in check, and I will continue fighting to make sure that medicine prices come down to better support our vulnerable community, such as our senior citizens.

Rodriguez: New Yorkers shouldn't have to worry about seeing if they could actually pay for the medical care and choosing between to see, "Can I pay for this and can I also eat?" This is not what New Yorkers should have to worry about. Right now, as it is, our seniors are facing financial limitations. I will support and I will continue to support any legislation that not only will help them reduce the cost out of pocket for the medicine, but as well as to give them more access to expand the program of EPIC. Not only it helps them with their health benefits, but it also helps them to learn more about what they can do for their health and their benefits. I also will make sure to fight for any illegal, this is what happens all the time, any illegal way of them to spike up the prices on medicine and make sure that this doesn't happen and hold them accountable for anyone that wants to do this to our seniors.

What do you propose to do to better support New York's 2.5 million family caregivers and their loved ones?


Rodriguez: If elected, I will support every policy in which expands the home health care options, as well as, too, I will also include our workforce that would provide them a tax benefit for all the families that would love to be caregivers.

Martinez: It's a big task to be a caregiver. I can tell you myself, I am. And I don't do it because I have to. I do it cause I also want to, right? These are my parents that I love. But many families are enduring this, and unfortunately, our caregivers are not given a substantial amount of financial contributions towards their caregiving. We need to make sure that we up that, we need to make sure that we're able to give them a good sense of monetary value as to what they're doing, because it is very difficult to care for someone else, aside from taking care of themselves and their families. So my support would be to increase the amount of money that is paid for caregivers in order for them to provide the good care they need to provide for others.

How will you work to help struggling utility consumers in New York?

Utility Affordability

Martinez: That's another issue, right? The rising cost of fuel and so forth. And many of our families either have gas or oil, and they need to make sure that they are able to keep warm. Also power. Our lighting is also very expensive. We need to subsidize utility costs. We also need to increase the amount of income eligibility for heat programs and REAP programs that people can apply for. Right now for a household of two is $42,000 a year that pretty much no one qualifies for. So we definitely need to increase the income eligibility for that.

Rodriguez: At this present time, all of our residents are feeling the squeeze of this increasing of all utility bills, but especially our seniors. I will support the creation of a refundable heating tax, which would help a lot of our seniors by reducing, by giving them a tax of $300 per individual that makes less than $125,000 a year. And I will also advocate for any proposal that will increase the electric rise on all of our residents at this present time. Not only that, but lastly, I will eliminate the 2% gross receipt tax that we have right now charging. It's called the 18A. That is an assessment that will provide $300 million in energy tax relief.

Also of Interest:

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